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Haircuts help trim tab for new building at UVU

Michelle Wilding gives UVU President Matt Holland a $5 haircut Wednesday at a fund?raiser for a new science building, which is No. 2 on the state's building priority list.
Michelle Wilding gives UVU President Matt Holland a $5 haircut Wednesday at a fund?raiser for a new science building, which is No. 2 on the state's building priority list.
Stuart Johnson, Deseret News

OREM — It would take a lot of $5 haircuts to build a 160,000-square-foot building at Utah Valley University, but for the third time this year, students lined up on Wednesday to help pay for what President Matt Holland says is the most critically needed addition to the growing school in its history.

In the middle of a bad budget year, when the state is cutting funds provided to public colleges and universities, UVU is forced to come up with its own ways of fundraising to show student and community support as well as raise a little cash for a new science education building. In addition to haircuts on campus, there have been talent shows, used clothing drives and other efforts, topping off the first million for a $52.7 million science education building.

"We live off Top Ramen, we don't have a lot of extra cash so it shows a major commitment when students give money for something the whole campus needs," said Kristopher Lange, UVU's student senator for science and health. Lange said he stays up until midnight on registration day so he can be one of the first to get into the highly popular science classes he needs to graduate.

Millions of dollars worth of scientific equipment sit underneath a blue tarp at the base of the stairwell in the science building because there isn't room to put it to use.

UVU's science building was originally built to accommodate the 8,000 students on campus, but College of Science Dean Sam Rushforth said on any given day, there are up to 20,000 students roaming the halls. And all of them are required to take at least two science credits.

"We've turned away hundreds of students because there just aren't enough courses to handle them," he said.

Wednesday's haircuts turned up just over $1,000 for the cause, and Lange said it was another productive day.

"There are hundreds of beautiful girls standing here waiting to cut your hair," he said. "Who wouldn't want to take advantage of that?"

Holland cleared his busy morning schedule to be part of the fray and was first in line to get a "professional trim" from Provo Paul Mitchell School student Michelle Wilding.

"I was definitely a little nervous cutting his hair," she said. But the cause made it worthwhile.

The cosmetology school provided 50 stylists for the fundraiser. The advanced "creative team" provided basic haircuts, did up-dos and was also available to paint nails, said program director Judy Richards. "It teaches them how to work fast and it's an opportunity to network with UVU and interact with the community."

The facility is the state's second-highest building priority and needs more than $49 million to get started, but Holland said the planning and design are complete and the project is "shovel-ready."

"It's typical of this campus and the importance placed on community engagement to be part of the solution," Holland said, requesting "grooming cream" to finalize his new 'do. "Students love to get behind things like this. It just adds to the energy and symbolism of the need for this building."

The completed building is expected to become the "new face of campus," sitting adjacent to the current 60,000-square-foot Pope Science building.